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Topic: Mathematics as a language
Replies: 35   Last Post: Nov 8, 2010 1:53 AM

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Brian Chandler

Posts: 1,899
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Mathematics as a language
Posted: Nov 8, 2010 1:53 AM
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Transfer Principle wrote:
> On Nov 6, 6:00 pm, Brian Chandler <imaginator...@despammed.com> wrote:
> > Daryl McCullough wrote:
> > > I don't think that's right at all. It doesn't have anything
> > > to do with 6 being special.

> > Never mind about being special, I'm completely baffled by the concept
> > of the "object" [!?] 6. What on earth does it mean for it to "exist"?
> > It seems to me that 6 only exists in the (incontrovertible) sense that
> > the Judaeo-Christian God "exists"


<snip>

> Exactly! Of course, most people in the world believe in the existence
> of the
> number six -- even more than believe in the Judaeo-Christian God --


Not exactly. You seem to have misunderstood my comment. In one sense
6, God, the tooth fairy, Harry Potter, and the harp part from the
intermezzo of Cavalleria Rusticana all exist, or we couldn't talk
about them. Shakespeare's play "Tony gets to Infinity",
Llanfrwyberimych the Welsh god of lardies, and the integer square root
of 7 do not exist (none of them has a Wikipedia entry, which clinches
it).

There is a different notion of "Existence", which I'll capitalise: all
sane people understand that Harry Potter is fictional, and doesn't
Exist in this sense; probably almost everyone agrees that the tooth
fairy doesn't Exist; there are differences of opinion whether God
Exists, and so on. My point was that there is no coherent sense in
which 6 could be said to Exist, which is why posters who go on about
infinity "existing" or "not existing" always turn out to be cranks.

More simply, mathematics is fiction, just like poetry or music (which
is why the analogy of regarding it as a "language" is at least as
valid as regarding music as a language). Just as a poem comes into
existence by the poet thinking of it, so do ineffable cardinals, and
the rest of it, and so would Big'un if its creator managed to provide
a coherent definition of it.

> people are more divided on the existence of certain natural numbers
> that
> are much, much larger than six. Try 10^600 -- there are active threads
> at
> sci.math that question the existence of numbers larger than 10^600.


Yes, and I think that these claims are totally loopy. Exactly like
people having arguments about whether Harry Potter _actually_ has
astigmatism. If JK Rowling churns out another one, in which she
reveals that HP has no astigmatism whatsoever, then that's the answer.

Brian Chandler


Date Subject Author
11/2/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Aatu Koskensilta
11/3/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
herb z
11/3/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Herman Jurjus
11/3/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Marshall
11/3/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Herman Jurjus
11/4/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
herb z
11/4/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Marshall
11/5/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
herb z
11/5/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Herman Jurjus
11/6/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
herb z
11/6/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
James Dolan
11/6/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Tim Little
11/6/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Daryl McCullough
11/6/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Marshall
11/6/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Brian Chandler
11/6/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Tim Little
11/7/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
lwalke3@lausd.net
11/8/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Brian Chandler
11/7/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
herb z
11/7/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Daryl McCullough
11/8/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
herb z
11/3/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
lwalke3@lausd.net
11/3/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Marshall
11/4/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
herb z
11/4/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
herb z
11/4/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
herb z
11/3/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Daryl McCullough
11/4/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Bill Taylor
11/4/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Daryl McCullough
11/5/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
herb z
11/4/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
herb z
11/4/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Daryl McCullough
11/5/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
herb z
11/5/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
Daryl McCullough
11/4/10
Read Re: Mathematics as a language
VK

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